Actors Ewen Bremner and Brian Cox are among those backing a £1.25 million fundraising campaign to reopen Edinburgh’s Filmhouse cinema.
The cinema on Lothian Road shut its doors in October when its parent company, the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), went into administration.
Newly-formed charity Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd and Caledonian Heritable, the new owners of the building, have now agreed an interim lease to enable a period of fundraising for essential refurbishment works.
Filmhouse (Edinburgh) on Thursday launched a fundraising campaign seeking to “open the doors” next year by raising £1.25 million.
Once the refurbishments have been carried out, the charity will enter a 21-year lease with Caledonian Heritable and the venue will operate as an independent cinema celebrating the diversity of filmmaking worldwide.
Trainspotting’s Bremner, Succession actor Cox and fellow Scottish stars Jack Lowden and Harmony Rose Bremner have recorded video messages supporting the campaign.
Ewen Bremner said: “Edinburgh Filmhouse is an immeasurable asset to the city.
“Personally, as somebody with no formal education, the Filmhouse was vital in expanding my horizons and developing my understanding of the language of cinema.
“I would not be the same actor without it. Please support the campaign to keep the doors open”.
Cox also urged people to back the campaign, saying: “Keep those doors open and let the Filmhouse thrive as it should.”
Ginnie Atkinson, of Filmhouse (Edinburgh), said the campaign and the lease arrangement mark a “significant step on the journey towards restoring cultural cinema provision for the city”.
She said: “Filmhouse is more than just a cinema – it’s a home for cinema lovers and for film festivals and is proud of its track record in the area of film education, which would continue.
“We are delighted to be able to launch the fundraising campaign with the goal of opening the doors to a newly refurbished cinema building in 2024.”
Filmhouse (Edinburgh) was formed in late December 2022 by four ex-Filmhouse colleagues: James Rice, former programme manager; Rod White, former head of programming; David Boyd, former head of technical; and Ms Atkinson, who was the former chief executive of Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival until 2010.
The reopened Filmhouse will operate independently as a cultural cinema and will run the in-house cafe-bar to support the charity.
Screen Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government have been working to secure a future for cultural cinema in the city since CMI called in administrators.
Filmhouse (Edinburgh) has been awarded £60,000 by Screen Scotland to support its planning and development work in the near-term.
David Smith, director of Screen Scotland, said: “Ginnie, James, David and Rod have worked incredibly hard over the last few months to secure this opportunity for the city and Scotland.
“I know that everyone round the table shares the same ambition – one also held by those many campaigners who raised their voices in support of the Filmhouse across recent months – to see the Filmhouse projectors kick back into life and the seats full of cinema lovers for decades to come.
“That’s an ambition Screen Scotland is very happy to support.”
The Filmhouse had been operating as a cinema on Lothian Road from 1979 until its closure last year.
Scottish culture minister Christina McKelvie said: “The Scottish Government is absolutely clear on the value of cultural cinema, and the importance of ensuring its future.
💙 We are delighted that @AberdeenCC Finance and Resources committee have adopted officers recommendations and have today appointed Belmont Community Cinema as the preferred operator for the Belmont Cinema.
— The Belmont Cinema (@BelmontCinema) September 13, 2023
“I am delighted to see that work to secure its future is progressing, and I am grateful to all involved for their ongoing hard work and dedication.”
The Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen was also run by CMI and it also shut last October.
Aberdeen City Council on Wednesday agreed a preferred operator for plans to bring the cinema back to life.
Belmont Community Cinema Ltd has set out plans to reopen the building as an independent, not-for-profit cinema, operated and programmed from Aberdeen, which focuses on four key areas – cultural film programming, education and filmmaking, community, and customer experience.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Ian Yuill said: “People have missed having an independent cinema in our city centre since the Belmont Cinema closed. Choosing a preferred operator is a very important step towards reopening the Belmont Cinema under new management.
“We look forward to seeing the preferred operator develop their plans into a thriving and popular cinema once again.”